Bagel tasting notes from the hole-iest new shops
Chew on this. In what could be considered one of very few “wins” of 2020, Winnipeg now boasts two totally tasty bagel shops opening within a few short weeks of one another. That’s a 'hole' lotta dough fsho.
You’ll find Montreal-style bagels at downtown Winnipeg's Bagelsmith. 20 schmears and spreads of both the sweet (maple cinnamon, salted caramel) and savoury (lemon pepper, buffalo ranch) variety are also on offer.
Wolseley’s Hudson Bagels have created a New York-Montreal hybrid (in this case, the bagels are baked in a convection oven à la NY and boiled in sweetened water like traditional Montreal-style), which they’ve affectionately coined “Winnipeg-style.” The shop opens in November (follow their ‘gram for updates) where it will be serving up bagel sandwiches and a smattering of schmears at Sherbrook Street’s old Boon Burger location. Bagels are also available at its booth at the St. Norbert Farmer’s Market.
Our office tasted both styles of bagels because we’re professionals and it’s just what we do. Here’s what you can expect from each:
Mike on Bagelsmith: Overall, the greatest/most-obscure compliment that I can give to Bagelsmith in regards to their bagels, in general, is that the texture (that bit of chew while the dough remains airy) is like Fredericton, New Brunswick’s legendary but sadly closed Samba Brazil pizza joint. This is high praise indeed as that pizza crust was ludicrous (anyone who went to UNB in the early '00s will know what I’m saying and immediately order themselves some bagels). The Bagelsmith bagel is truly what all bagels should aspire to be – it has two textures via a toasty exterior and pillowy interior, while the flavour starts off sweet and ends salty and a touch malty providing a fine base for all the great things they put on them.
If you are a purist and want to experience the bagel in its natural element I’d elect to go with the smoked butter spread on poppy seed.
For sandwiches, the Big Buff rocks with a smart amount of acidity via the buffalo ranch smear on one side and hot sauce on the other. In between, you get a nice shaving of oven-roasted turkey, crisp ice burg lettuce and sweet bread and butter pickles. It’s simply a very good sandwich.
Our favourite though is the Bento Bagel, which is all kinds of fun. The mild lox is complimented by so many great things, including sweet cucumbers that are like those you’d get in a sunomono salad (I'm guessing rice wine vinegar and a bit of sugar), a wasabi smear that is not too assertive, and an extra bit of crunch and brine via pickled ginger. It’s so good.
Riley on Hudson Bagels: These bagels were built to hold up serious stacks of ingredients sandwiched in between their halves. It might sound trivial, but the hole in the middle isn’t too large, making for a solid sandwich base. Structural integrity is key here.
We're totally sold on the signature all-dressed bagel, of which Hudson’s secret spice blend brings a bit of heat, a bit of salt and a ton of flavour to the classic everything bagel. You can’t go wrong with a plain cream cheese spread on this one, as the bagel’s complex flavour does all the heavy lifting.
We’ve been told we can expect eight core bagel sandwiches on Hudson’s menu, ranging from breakfast to lunch and dessert. Hudson will no doubt bring on some unique flavour combinations all while maintaining the authenticity of the bagel. We can’t wait.
Knish it old school
You can't talk bagels in this town without sticking to your guns -- that being Gunn's Bakery, which first started cranking them out in 1937! Today, they are slinging 19 types of bagels, representing all the regions from New York style, Montreal, Philly, Boston and Toronto poppyseed, along with flavours like cranberry, original egg, water, pumpernickel and pizza. Gunn's new owner Jon Hochman (he purchased the institution in 2019) also has a history with making great bagels, as his Sherbrook Street Delicatessen made incredible honey water bagels that served as a vehicle for its house-made lox.